Transcript is autogenerated and may contain typos, errors, omissions etc.

So today’s topic is a walkthrough of what a Personal chef service cook day aka meal prep cook day walkthrough.

So actually kind of what it looks like when you are doing a personal chef service aka a meal prep day for a paying client. So hey Stacy good to see you and Mark I’m excited that you could catch this live. So if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments.

I’ll come back to the comments after and get to it. So I thought about doing a walkthrough of a day in just my regular life. But then I thought, who gives a crap about me getting my kids out the door, running errands, going to the grocery store, making dinner, paying bills.

And then I thought, Okay, you know what? That’s almost exactly what a cook day for a personal chef actually is like. So, let’s get [00:01:00] into it then. If you’re confused about, like, the difference between meal prep and personal chef services, let’s talk there. So, originally, personal chef services were called personal chef services.

And that’s where you went to a client’s house, you cooked them a week’s worth of dinners or whatever they needed and you packaged it up and left and they heated it as they needed it. Well, then came this huge popularity of meal prepping, right? And that’s where you cook yourself a bunch of meals and maybe package it individually and pull out what you need.

And it got really popular with everybody from people who work out or trying to eat healthy or stuff like that. And so I think for the ease of simplicity, it’s shorter to say meal prep. You are prepping meals. So people started calling personal chef services meal prepping. Well, then there are some chefs.

There’s always gotta be those some [00:02:00] chefs, right? Someone’s always gotta be a dick who, got all up in arms that people were calling what they do meal prepping because meal prepping is so down market and blah, blah. And they’re like fancy chefs and whatever. So that’s why I say both all the time so that we’re all on the same page.

because it’s just about being clear so that you can understand so you can make a decision if this is something you want to actually do for a business, right? So, personal chef services, aka doing meal preps for a paying client. Traditionally, this is again the service where you plan with the client and go to their home and prepare all their food, not where you’re deciding that this week you’re going to make lasagna and meatloaf and a stir fry and then you put it out there and people can order nothing or something or one of one thing or five of another and you try to get as much as you can because you can really only charge like eight to ten bucks, 15 bucks a plate, right?[00:03:00]

So we are talking about personal chef services as meal prep. So, What my cook day looks like and what yours probably would too when you are cooking for a client in their home, which is traditionally the way it works, I get up and I already have done all their paperwork and that means like their invoice, their labels, their menu with reheating instructions because they’ve gotten me their menu the week before, right?

That’s how I like to run it. I don’t choose the food for my clients. I work it out with them ahead of time. And that works best. That way they get the freedom to choose what they want, but they’re still choosing from what I’ve given them to choose from. So they’ve told me what they picked and I get all the paperwork done ahead of time.

So on their actual cook day, that’s when I’m doing the grocery shopping and the cooking. So here’s a little tip that might work [00:04:00] for you, or it might not. It depends on where you are and what the qualities of the grocery stores are. I think my phone is going to take a dive out of this. All right, so grocery stores.

Back in the day when I started, I had to go to the grocery store and I had to go to multiple grocery stores sometimes to get everything I needed depending on what I was cooking for what kind of client, what kind of food they wanted, right? Things have changed so much now, especially after COVID in that.

So, you might be tempted or have thought about having groceries delivered and then maybe worried about it. So, I just kind of want to share a little bit about my experience so that you can make a decision on which way this would kind of work for you. First, of course, do it for yourself. When you are practicing a cook day, just like you would do for a client, try to pull all your recipes make your grocery list.

An [00:05:00] order from the store you would shop at as a client, and Then you will find out. Do they do a good job? Do they do a bad job? Did they pick out good enough produce? Is it not up to standard? Do, when they’re out of something, do they substitute something totally random?

I have them substitute. Oh, this pissed me off. I needed oxtail for a recipe and they substituted pork ham hocks. Not even the same type of meat. But whatever. So, there is a grocery store here called Central Market, and you order, and you can put a note on every single item. So like, if they’re pricing zucchini at 1.

25 a piece, or whatever, you can add in the note, I put eight, but I just need four pounds. Because sometimes zucchini are teeny, sometimes they’re huge, whatever, right? So if you know you need four pounds for the recipe, you can tell them that, [00:06:00] even if it’s not priced out that way. But the main thing you’ll want to make sure is how they handle substitutions and how far in advance they let you know that they needed to substitute.

Because this is where it can get tricky. Like I said, when I have a recipe that needs oxtails, I can’t substitute pork hocks. But if I order what brand is it? So, Kikkoman, maybe, Panko, and they have to substitute their generic grocery store brand, that’s probably going to be fine for what I need it for.

So the great thing about my good grocery store here is, they actually call you, you can discuss every substitution, they will see if they have something, they will, you know, and that is fine. It’s perfect because they can really work through getting you exactly what you need instead of some grocery stores that’ll just throw in something random or, you know, make it a big hassle.

So you’ll want to experiment because if you can find a grocery store [00:07:00] that is up to your standards that can do delivery, that might take a lot of time out of your cook day. And when you’re getting paid to cook, time is money, right? As cliche as that is, the faster you’re going, the more efficient you’re being.

So. If you’re not able to do that, I love going to the grocery store first thing in the morning. And here’s why. One, there is nobody there. I can get through the store, I can get through it quickly, I can check out fast. It’s wonderful. Second of all, you have time to actually talk to the staff and they have time to help you if you need something.

If in produce they don’t have something out, I can ask someone if they have any in the back, if they haven’t unloaded off the truck yet, or if they don’t have it that day and then I know I need to go somewhere else. You know, there’s not a huge crowd at the seafood counter if I need to discuss what’s fresh or I need a [00:08:00] substitution or something or they can just give me tips or let me know if they have something special in.

You can really form these relationships with the people at your favorite grocery store and that not only makes your work life so much easier but it You know, as a solopreneur, these are kind of your co workers and it’s great just to have relationships with them. And here’s a little secret. If you treat them nicely and like human beings, you will be surprised at how nice they are, how they will go the extra mile to get you what you need, and even go further.

further than that and give you secrets and tips and other special things they have in that regular people don’t get to hear about. So that is a great reason to go as early as you’re able to in the morning. So I do my grocery shopping. I have my list of course in order. So if you’ve Been to the grocery store a billion times [00:09:00] as a passionate cook.

That’s where we live, right? You’ll notice that the produce, the meat, the dairy and stuff is all around the outside walls and in the inside generally is all the dry good aisles. Now that might vary a little bit. You might have a store that their freezer section is in the aisles too, but if you divide your list up like that, it makes it.

So much better. You’re not like backtracking because you see something down your list that was in meat and you have to go back. You could just go, bam, meat and seafood department, get everything you need, bam, produce, get everything you need. And even I have gotten anal enough where I have done the aisles of the grocery store in order and by what I usually need in each area.

So I can rip through it and not miss anything again. Saves you a lot of time. I highly recommend it if you shop at the same place all the time. Of course, I use reusable bags. I would have such an [00:10:00] insane amount of single use plastic bags and I still end up with a ton and I take them to the grocery store and they recycle them.

But it is just a beat down. I would 1000 times over rather use reusable bags, especially because I can load those things up instead of having a billion plastic bags. So that’s another tip that makes it easier for me. And then I head off to the client’s house. So, when I am unloading onto the counters, because the kitchen is clean, because that is part of the deal.

I have made it very clear to them. If I had a chronic problem, I’ve had people ask about this, with a client who, their kitchen is always dirty when I show up, I am not spending extra time to clean their kitchen. I will tell them a couple times, and then fire them. In a nutshell. or just shovel it off to the side and wipe the counter down.

So, you know, until it’s just such a chronic problem that I won’t deal with it anymore. So the kitchen is [00:11:00] clean. I lay everything out. I always take printed recipes. This is part of the reason why I set down the recipe and I put the ingredients that I need for that one by it. And so I set out the five, 10, however many, get my dry pantry goods out.

That’s something I missed. So when, before I leave, I’ve also done all the paperwork and I pack up the pantry ingredients that I might need if I’m taking, you know, dried herbs and spices and seasonings. If what else? I like to take my knives and my cutting boards and a ton of spatulas and tongs. I generally try to use as much as possible at the client so I don’t have to haul a lot of stuff, but that depends on the client’s kitchen and what they have.

Okay. The things I try to avoid taking our equipment unless I absolutely have to like a food processor now in theory a food processor can make [00:12:00] short work of shredding, Julienning, Mixing a whole bunch of things, but in reality it takes a lot of time to clean.

So unless I have any a lot that I’m gonna be using the food processor for. I would rather just do it with a knife and cutting board which I’m gonna need anyway and is a lot easier to clean. Plus my food processor must weigh 15 pounds and I don’t want to haul it. So generally the only thing I really have to take like that is a pressure cooker because if you watched my video a couple weeks ago I I love me some pressure cooker to make a cook day go faster.

So I get them all organized by recipe with all the ingredients and then I start the longest one first. So if I have a braise that needs to go in the oven, I get that going first. If I have, you know, something else that is going to need to simmer for a long time or whatever, I get those going [00:13:00] first. Then I get another one going and I do the prep as I go.

Now hear me out. If you are a hospitality professional and you have been in the industry for decades, I know you’re going to want to argue with me about your mise en place and getting everything prepped and ready to go because it will make your cooking faster. But I’m here to tell you that cooking in a restaurant and cooking for one client are totally different.

Mise en place is okay if you are doing one recipe with a lot of prep and it all comes together quickly. Like a stir fry that you’re doing at home for yourself. Of course it’s 100 percent a requirement if you’re in a restaurant, but when you are doing cooking like this where you are trying to get five or more recipes or however many you can going at the same time as quickly as possible, it’s actually more efficient.

Like I said, to get the long one started first, [00:14:00] then get the next one going, then get the next one going. You want to try to overlap them as much as you can. You will have recipes like a stir fry where it’s hands on the entire time, so it’s tough to overlap that with someone with another recipe, but when you know that you’re going to be spending a lot of hands on time with that recipe, that’s why you get something like the braise.

or the stew on the stove going, so that then you’re making the most use of your time. Instead of doing the stir fries start to finish, doing chicken parmesan start to finish, and God forbid then starting a braise, that you’re entirely done, the kitchen is entirely clean, and you’re waiting for a long cooking dish to finish.

Oof! You don’t want to do that. So again, laying out those recipes is just another, you know, Quick, easy strategy to keep you organized. So After I get a couple dishes going, I start cleaning. [00:15:00] I admit I am not hugely great at cleaning as I go, but I hate being finished and seeing a giant mountain of crap I have to clean.

So I do try to clean as I go a little bit, and then you get to a point where everything is going along or finished enough where you can start cleaning more seriously. And as things finish, the Best way, here’s the pro tip, to get food cooled down quickly so that you can package up and put it in the fridge is an ice bath.

I use aluminum half pan disposable pans, put ice and water in the bottom, a clean one in the top, put the hot food in the top, and it will cool down so much more. Quickly, then if you just leave it out to sit by itself, especially if it’s something that’s super hot liquid, like again, a soup, a stew, a braise, something like that.

It allows it to spread out a little. It gets it out of the hot pot. [00:16:00] Aluminum is a great conductor, so it gets that cold going to cool down the hot faster. You stir it occasionally. That’s the best way to chill down your food fast. Then, I finish up the cleaning, I package the food however the client wants it.

They’ve already told me if they want disposable, if they want Pyrex glassware, if they want it in individual portions, if they want it family style, the whole entree in one portion, package it up, put all the labels on it. And then I have their invoice already made up. Like I said, where I can easily add the groceries or even better, I use wave.

which is, I think it’s wave apps. You can just goggle it online and it is a great, super easy bookkeeping software. And in there, if you’ve set up the invoice ahead of time, or even if you haven’t, you can easily do it on your phone. They have an app. You can make the invoice, put the grocery amount in it [00:17:00] and send the invoice off to them right from your phone.

And you can even take payments. through WAVE. So let’s talk about payments. In my business, I’ve been doing this long enough, I don’t care how they pay me. I let them pay by cash, by check, by ACH bank transfer, by any type of credit card, by Zelle, by Venmo, by Cash App. What? And I’ve had people pay me? All the ways.

And usually every client I have is paying a different way. So the only real complication for you there is don’t forget all your business stuff needs to say separate from your personal stuff. So you need a business checking account to take their payment into and to pay for groceries out of that is the professional tax friendly way to run your business like a pro.

So they can, if you want to take credit cards, another tip, you don’t have to take credit cards. People will be more than happy to pay you [00:18:00] another way. They totally understand as a one person, personal chef business, that you may not take credit cards. So don’t worry about that. But if you want to, there’s a few different options.

You can get a merchant account through your bank and your commercial checking account. They can set you up. You can take credit cards through PayPal or if you’re going to use Wave, again, that can really make your bookkeeping a breeze, you can take credit cards through there. And when you send them the invoice or QuickBooks too, but QuickBooks is really expensive.

When you send them your invoice through WAVE, it has the link right on there for them to pay, and it says you can pay credit card, you can pay ACH bank transfer, and they can do it right through there, and it’s easy, peasy. And like I said, you can edit it right there to add in their grocery amount because at that point you’ll know exactly what it is.

So stick their menu on the fridge or wherever they have asked me to leave it with what they, the food they’ve gotten, how to heat each one, whether they want to heat in the oven or [00:19:00] heat in the microwave. And that’s about it. By this time, my kids are either just getting out of school or pretty much out of school.

And I have to tell you, here’s a nether. Take my advice. After a cook day, I pretty much don’t want to make dinner. And here’s a little Sneak peek coming up. I do have a video where I’m going to talk about burnout again, where I’ve talked about this. I have a big video up in the past. Actually, I’ll link to that in the comments in case you want to go see it.

Sometimes it can be hard, even if you love it, to do it all day and then get home and want to do it again, especially because If you’re cooking by yourself and you’re cooking for a paying client who loves you and loves your food and is happy to pay you to do it and then you go home and you have snarky partners or backtalky children or somebody’s gonna complain about something, that can really [00:20:00] be not as fun, especially when you’re tired and you’ve been standing all day and your ass just wants to be in bed.

the chair. So something I am hugely bad at, and this week actually has been so bad that I am recommitting to do it for myself, is doing a service for myself. Even if it’s only two dinners on Sunday that I have for when I’m cooking. Cause all my cook days are front loaded at the beginning of the week. It would help me so much and it would really be a treat to have something nice to eat for dinner instead of me pulling out, what’s the worst thing we’ve eaten this week?

When I’ve bottomed out for my kids it’s peanut butter sandwiches. And for my husband that would be spaghetti with jarred sauce, probably would be as bad as it gets. I even had to pull some mystery things out of the freezer this week. Not a fan. Another thing I need to get better at is labeling [00:21:00] stuff.

I pull this stuff out of the freezer and I have no idea what it is. I have to defrost it a little in the microwave and try to figure it out if I even want to eat it or not. So it will really, really set you up to have a much more enjoyable and pleasant week if you manage to do some meal prepping for yourself, just like you would for a client.

Nothing is better than that practice. If you haven’t started your personal chef business yet of doing a cook day for yourself, exactly like you would for a client. And then you get the benefits all week long. In addition to getting confident, getting your skills better, and getting faster at doing a cook day.

And if you’re a pro, you already know this. But do yourself a favor and make it easier for yourself on the week. You’re working hard, chef. You need a break and a delicious dinner after you’re done cooking, too. If you want to do a practice cook day for yourself you’ve, probably gotten the how to guide do a [00:22:00] personal chef service for a paying client.

And you can run practice cook days. there. If you can’t find it, you’ve lost it. You don’t even remember what I’m talking about. I can send it to you. It’s a great pdf. It even has a couple recipe suggestions. It walks you through exactly what I said today. Plus it has some good tips in it to that I’ve got.

Probably forgotten. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I will get to you. If you need that free how to do a personal chef service for a paying client guide, the PDF, I’ll send it to you.

Get your practice in because I’m telling you the clients are out there and they are hungry for what you’re cooking.

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